I didn’t think I played too much of Splatoon 2’s new expansion, but I played it enough to have it die on me when starting from full charge, so I suppose the time just flew by. Or I had the brightness and volume up way too much.

What I played of it so far was such an improvement of the original main campaign. While the level design of Splatoon 2’s Octo Canyon was still well thought out and fun, it largely borrowed concepts from the original game’s campaign, and as a result didn’t feel as “fresh.” Octo Expansion takes a much more unique and experimental approach with its story, level progression, and level design, while maintaining the same zany tone and excellent game mechanics.

You play as an Octoling who has lost his or her memory in a fight against “Agent 3,” the player protagonist of the original Splatoon, as you learn from Captain Cuttlefish, who decides to call a truce with you temporarily. This is because both of you have somehow found yourselves in a subway, and the only way to escape to the “Promised Land” of above is to get all four “thangs” (yes, that’s what they call them). You are the 1,008th sea creature to attempt this, and thus Captain Cuttlefish dubs you “Agent 8.”

There are also some very cute interactions between Pearl, Marina, and the Captain, with an online chat interface showing more dialogue between the three. The goofy, modern “hipster” writing has really been notched up to 11 here, and it put a smile on my face during many occasions.

The way level progression works also got a complete restructure. While at first you can only choose levels on the left or right, you’ll eventually hit a point on either side where you open up a new intersection, allowing you to then do the levels on that part. Eventually, the levels look like a map on a real subway, and this progression allows for a myriad of choices as to how soon you decide to go after the “thangs” and which challenges to take.

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Much like Octo Canyon, you are given one to three options of weapons to use during each level, but the comparisons mainly stop there. In order to start, there’s a fee of in-game currency, and you get a bit more back after you beat it, with different weapon combos determining how much. I was a bit worried about what would happen if I sucked at a level and lost all of my currency, which actually happened. After getting some serious shade thrown at me by Pearl and Marina, you’re leant 3,000, which Captain Cuttlefish will ask back once you amass more. I don’t know what would happen if you refused for too long, as I felt bad and turned the currency back in once I’d saved enough up.

Finally, the actual levels themselves are completely different in nature from those of the Octo Canyon. They’re a bit shorter, although many can still take a long while because of multiple retries, and focus on different weapons that have since been added to the game via free DLC, special weapons such as the roller ball, or have special conditions such as popping all balloons, defeating all enemies, or rolling an eight-ball across the stage. It’s all so much more creative and varied, and is a much more engaging experience for it.

So far, the Octo Expansion is turning out to be everything I thought it’d be, plus more. I plan to conquer each of the 80 stages present, and really savor my time back in Splatoon 2. While I never got deep into the online (I’m still at around level 15), the single-player campaigns of the Splatoon games are what brought me to the series, and Octo Expansion looks like it might end up being among my favorite of them.

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I’m so, so tired. I am going to sleep now. Sleep is good.